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Markhor in Los Angeles zoo


Joined September 2008

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Dedicated to my friend Liina. She is great woman, with big heart. Last summer we went together to Redwood NP, before last year to Niagara. Oo we do a lot of thing together and thats the most important. Sharing. Inspired at light on this moment.
Photo is done in Los Angeles county.

In zoology, a horn is one of a pair of hard, pointed, often permanent projections on the head of various hoofed mammals (ungulates) consisting of a core of living bone covered by a sheath of keratin and other proteins. Examples of animals with true horns include antelopes, cattle, buffalo, and goats. The term also is used to refer more specifically to the hard keratinous material forming the outer covering.

While both a bony core and a covering of keratinous material constitute the definition of a “true horn,” there are many other hard structures projecting from the head of animals that do not meet these requirements and yet are referred to commonly as horns. These include the antlers of deer (dead bone without horn covering), the horns of rhinoceroses (thickly, matted hair that has keratin but lacks a bony core), and the ossicones of giraffes (skin-covered bony knobs formed from ossified cartilage).

Horns provide a diversity of important functions for the animals bearing them, such as defense from predators, tools in fighting other members of the species for territory or mating, feeding, courtship displays, and cooling. Humans also have utilized them for such valued purposes as making musical instruments, carrying items (gunpowder and drink), Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and for making tools, furniture, and decorations. However, sometimes animals have been hunted just for their horns, such as in TCM or selectively hunting bighorn sheep with huge horns as hunting trophies. Such practices have had a detrimental impact on those animals that stand out because of their horns
Goats, in the wild state, are an exclusively old-world group, of which the more typical forms are confined to Europe and south-western and central Asia, although there are two outlying species in northern Africa. The wild goat, or pasang, is represented in Europe in the Cyclades and Crete by rather small races, xi’. 6 more or less mingled with domesticated breeds, the Cretan animal being distinguished as Capra hircus creticus; but the large typical race C. h. aegagrus is met with in the mountains of Asia Minor and Persia, whence it extends to Sind, where it is represented by a somewhat different race known as C. h. blythi. The horns of the old bucks are of great length and beauty, and characterized by their bold scimitar-like backward sweep and sharp front edge, interrupted at irregular intervals by knots or bosses. Domesticated goats have run wild in many islands, such as the Hebrides, Shetland, Canaries, Azores, Ascension and Juan Fernandez. Some of these reverted breeds have developed horns of considerable size, although not showing that regularity of curve distinctive of the wild race. In the Azores the horns are remarkably upright and straight, whence the name of “antelopegoat” which has been given to these animals. The concretions known as bezoar-stones, formerly much used in medicine and as antidotes of poison, are obtained from the stomach of the wild goat.

Although there have in all probability been more or less important local crosses with other wild species, there can be no doubt that domesticated goats generally are descended from the wild goat. It is true that many tame goats show spirally twisted horns recalling those of the under-mentioned Asiatic markhor; but in nearly all such instances it will be found that the spiral twists in the opposite direction. Among the domesticated breeds the following are some of the more important.

Firstly, we have the common or European goats, of which there are several more or less well-marked breeds, differing from each other in length of hair, in colour and slightly in the configuration of the horns. The ears are more or less upright, sometimes horizontal, but never actually pendent, as in some Asiatic breeds. The horns are rather flat at the base and not unfrequently corrugated; they rise vertically from the head, curving to the rear, and are more or less laterally inclined. The colour varies from dirty white to dark-brown, but when pure-bred is never black, which indicates eastern blood. Most European countries possess more than one description of the common goat. In the British Isles there are two distinct types, one short and the other long haired. In the former the hair is thick and close, with frequently an under-coat resembling wool. The horns are large in the male, and of moderate size in the female, flat at the base and inclining outwards. The head is short and tapering, the forehead flat and wide, and the nose small; while the legs are strong, thick and well covered with hair. The colour varies from white or grey to black, but is frequently fawn, with a dark line down the spine and another across the shoulders. The other variety has a shaggy coat, generally reddish-black, though sometimes grey or pied and occasionally white. The head is long, heavy and ugly, the nose coarse and prominent, with the horns situated close together, often continuing parallel almost to the extremities, being also large, corrugated and pointed. The legs are long and the sides flat, the animal itself being generally gaunt and thin. This breed is peculiar to Ireland, the Welsh being of a similar type, but more often white. The shorthaired goat is the English goat proper. Both British breeds, as well as those from abroad, are frequently ornamented with two tassel-like appendages, hanging near together under the throat. It has been supposed by many that these are traceable to foreign blood; but although there are foreign breeds that possess them, they appear to pertain quite as much to the English native breeds as to those of distant countries, the peculiarity being mentioned in very old works on the goats of the British Islands. The milk-produce in the common goat as well as other kinds varies greatly with individuals. Irish goats often yield a quantity of milk, but the quality is poor. The goats of France are similar to those of Britain, varying in length of hair, colour and character of horns. The Norway breed is frequently white with long hair; it is rather small in size, with small bones, a short rounded body, head small with a prominent forehead, and short, straight, corrugated horns. The facial line is concave. The horns of the males are very large, and curve round after the manner of the wild goat, with a tuft of hair between and in front.
On the picture is Bukharan markhor, who I saw in Los Angeles Zoo. Although the Bukharan markhor formerly lived in most of the mountains stretching along the north banks of the Upper Amu Darya and the Pyanj rivers from Turkmenistan to Tajikistan, two to three scattered populations now occur in a greatly reduced distribution. It is limited to the region between lower Pyanj and the Vakhsh rivers near Kulyab in Tajikistan (about 70”E and 37’40’ to 38”N), and in the Kugitangtau range in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (around 66’40’E and 37’30’N). This subspecies may possibly exist in the Darwaz peninsula of northern Afghanistan near the border with Tajikistan. Before 1979, almost nothing was known of this subspecies or its distribution in Afghanistan, and no new information has been developed in Afghanistan since that time.1

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